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Sunday Mornings with Rania: Mass Shootings

Rania Mankarious
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Rania Mankarious

Rania Mankarious is executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston(Photo:

Here’s the problem. We think it can never happen here. We see the news, follow the headlines and shake our heads when we read about it elsewhere, but deep inside, we think it just could not happen here. Sadly, mass shootings are the new phenomenon and this week, one took place in our backyard, on a beautiful Sunday, in a great part of town, in a busy part of the city. We lost an innocent victim, Gene Linscomb, a well-loved community member from Memorial, father to a recent fifth grade graduate from Frostwood Elementary School. Additionally, six others were directly injured but, thankfully, are expected to survive. 

Our hearts break for our friends and neighbors who were in the crossfire last week. We thank the law enforcement who ran into the gun fire and did their all to keep us safe and we ask that we as a community come together, learn the risks, identify the potential targets and do whatever we can to proactively stop the violence. Our lives and livelihood depend on it.

President Obama has declared that “we have a pattern of mass shootings that has no parallel anywhere else in the world.” According to Mass Shooting Tracker, which defines a “mass shooting as an incident in which at least four people were killed or wounded, there were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 and wounding 1,870. According to the same source, there have been more than 120 in 2016 already.

People across the nation will argue these facts, discuss gun reform and make this political. They’ll say we need to redefine what “mass shootings” are and create a list of factors that must be met before a mass shooting can be labeled a “mass shooting.”

For me, I refuse to get tied up in the weeds. For me, this conversation is not a 2nd amendment issue and I firmly set aside the political discussion. For me, I think of those killed, those injured and those traumatized for being in, near or connected to the scene. My focus is to make sure you are aware of what to do should this ever happen in your neighborhood, school, local mall, movie theater, place of business, etc.

I spoke to Chief J.D. Sanders and Assistant Chief Ray Schultz with the Memorial Villages Police Department. We had a long conversation and they offered great insight:

  • The probability of a mass shooting taking place is very rare.
  • That said, it can happen and does happen; what you need to know is law enforcement is trained for mass shootings in any and all situations.
  • If you are ever in a situation where a shooter is on premise, the recommendation is to immediately run/fight/hide. If the shooter is outside a facility that you are in, the recommendation is to shelter-in-place or leave only if advised to do so by local law enforcement.
  • Always listen to law enforcement but remember, law enforcement in these situations must determine who and where the threat comes from; understand they are focused on getting the shooter and keeping innocent lives safe in the process.
  • Don’t panic, stay calm.
  • Most importantly, live your life; do not let fear affect your day-to-day activities but always remain vigilant. 

While we know that more than one-third of mass killers die on scene, it’s still critically important to understand why these individuals engage in these tragic events. The triggers have been studied. Here’s what we have found:

  • 53 percent of the time, the killer is out to kill family members.
  • 21 percent of the time, the killer has a connection to the victim but it is not familial (workplace violence falls in this category or school bullying).
  • 15 percent of the time, the killer is killing randomly.
  • 10 percent of the time, the killing is done in conjunction with another criminal activity (robbery/burglary).
  • Beyond this, we know that mass killers have triggers which include but are not limited to the significance of holidays, financial stress, breakups or impulses derived from a compromised mental state.

Mass shootings are an inexpressible tragedy. What’s even worse than the senseless killing is the fact that often, these occurrences can be stopped before they take place. Many times the killer has left signs, told someone, made plans that others knew about. Our goal is to get people to say something, tell someone, before innocent lives are lost.

In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed to the Emma Grace Linscomb Education Fund established at Chase Bank Town & Country, 12802 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX, 77024 in care of Robin Mantor.

For more information on Crime Stoppers of Houston, go to and follow Crime Stoppers on Facebook. Have topics in mind that you’d like Rania to write about? Email her directly at [email protected]. Read past Sundays with Rania posts here.

Editor's Note: Views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Buzz Magazines.

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